London – Crossed Baton can provide John Gosden with a third victory in the last four renewals of the Dante Stakes at York.
Widely regarded as Britain’s leading trial for the Derby at Epsom, the Group Two contest has a slightly sub-standard look to it this season and it will take something extraordinary to come out of this year’s race for 2000 Guineas hero Saxon Warrior to be challenged at the head of ante-post lists for the premier Classic.
The last horse to score on the Knavesmire before going on to claim Epsom glory was the Gosden-trained Golden Horn in 2015 and Crossed Baton can at least establish himself as a realistic contender.
The Dansili colt has won three of his four starts to date, most recently making all the running in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.
While there was nothing flashy about his performance, he showed a willing attitude to come out on top and the form was significantly boosted at Chester last week, with the runner-up, My Lord And Master, finishing second in the Dee Stakes and the third home, Dee Ex Bee, going down narrowly in the Chester Vase.
Crossed Baton will certainly need to improve to win again, but that is not inconceivable, with the forecast fast ground expected to suit.
It could be another excellent day at the office for Gosden and Frankie Dettori, with Coronet setting a standard that will be tough to match in the Middleton Stakes.
The daughter of Dubawi won the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer and finished second to esteemed stablemate Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks here in August.
She went on to take fifth in the St Leger and third on Champions Day at Ascot and while her fitness has to be taken on trust on her seasonal reappearance she is a confident selection.
Custom Cut should go well at rewarding odds in the Hambleton Handicap. David O’Meara’s stable stalwart is in the autumn of his career at the age of nine, but it is only 12 months since he won a Group 3 in Ireland.
He spent much of 2017 in Group races and Listed events without success and with his mark having dropped as a result, he is now able to compete back in handicap company.
The veteran was far from disgraced in finishing fourth on his reappearance at Haydock last month and, given conditions on Merseyside were softer than ideal, the handicapper’s decision to drop him another 1.5kg to a rating of 102 looks a tad generous.
He is a winner at York and having blown away any cobwebs at Haydock he should run a big race. – Press Association